Imagine being in a building during a power outage. Would you know the way out? That’s where emergency lights and exit signs come into play. Their role is crucial in guiding individuals to safety. Yet, just having them isn’t enough; they need to work when they’re most needed. How can you ensure that? By testing them regularly.

Why Test Emergency Lights and Exit Signs?

Safety Reasons

Think of these lights and signs as silent guardians. When everything goes dark, they shine the brightest, guiding everyone towards safety. The chaos of an emergency is bad enough; imagine adding the darkness to it. Not a pleasant thought, right?

Regulatory Compliance

Besides being a logical safety measure, regular testing is also a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. Authorities understand the importance of these fixtures, hence the mandates.

Pre-test Preparation

Gathering Necessary Tools

Before diving into testing, ensure you have all the necessary tools on hand. Common tools include a screwdriver, testing device, and a logbook for recording results. Remember the old saying, “A workman is only as good as his tools”?

Safety Precautions

Safety first! Ensure the area is free of obstructions. Inform occupants about the testing to avoid confusion or panic.

How to Test Emergency Lights

Monthly Quick Test

  1. Locate the test button on the light unit.
  2. Press and hold for 30 seconds.
  3. Check if the lights turn on. If not, it’s time for repairs or replacements.

Remember, a stitch in time saves nine. Regular monthly checks can save you from bigger troubles down the road.

Annual 90-Minute Test

This one’s a bit more intensive. Here’s how:

  1. Press and hold the test button for 90 minutes.
  2. The emergency lights should remain illuminated for the duration.
  3. If they dim significantly or turn off, they may need maintenance or battery replacement.

How to Test Exit Signs

Checking for Visibility

Is your exit sign clearly visible from all parts of the room? If not, it may be improperly placed or need brighter illumination.

Testing for Functionality

  1. Turn off the power supply to the sign.
  2. The backup battery should kick in, and the sign should remain lit.
  3. If it doesn’t, it’s time to replace the battery or the sign itself.

Common Challenges During Testing

Sometimes, lights may flicker or signs may not light up at all. Faulty wiring, dead batteries, or simply wear and tear can be the culprits. Stay calm, note down the issue, and get it fixed. No biggie, right?

Tips for Effective Testing

  • Conduct tests at the same time each month to build a habit.
  • Keep spare batteries on hand.
  • Train multiple people in the testing process. After all, two heads are better than one!

Record Keeping

Maintaining a detailed log of each test is crucial. Not only does it help in tracking performance, but it’s also useful for compliance purposes. So, next time someone asks if you’re keeping tabs on things, you can confidently nod!


Testing emergency lights and exit signs isn’t just a regulatory checkbox. It’s about ensuring safety and peace of mind for everyone inside a building. By following the steps and tips outlined above, you can ensure that when the lights go out, the path to safety remains illuminated.


  1. How often should I test emergency lights?
    • Monthly for a quick test and annually for a 90-minute test.
  2. Why did my emergency light not turn on during testing?
    • Possible reasons include dead batteries, faulty wiring, or the unit reaching its lifespan.
  3. Can I replace the batteries myself?
    • Yes, but ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions.
  4. Do exit signs require a separate power source?
    • No, they usually run on building power and switch to backup batteries during outages.
  5. How long do emergency light batteries last?
    • Typically, 4-5 years, but regular testing can help identify any early issues.